This past week, I loaded myself up on premium espresso beverages, made the library my second home, and proceeded to ferociously tap away at my keyboard until I turned in my thesis two hours past the technical deadline. Because I barely stopped to eat, let alone sleep, my immune system was compromised and I ended up lying in bed for two days with a fever and a sore throat that, to this day, still pains me every time I swallow.
Needless to say, I would never recommend copying my method for success on your finals. In place of my bad example, I call on you to learn from my mistakes and look at the following tips for healthy studying.
1. Break down your work into bite-sized chunks
Don't try to tackle every facet of your project in one go. Prioritize and organize instead.
For instance, if you know that you have a couple of days to cram for an exam, break down those days into two to three hours of solid work. Within this short time, you'll be cycling between prep work (e.g., making a Quizlet set or writing a short summary of the material), actively absorbing information, and reflecting upon the material to see what you've learnt. Take a break of 30 minutes to an hour and then start over again.
2. Eat right
Did you know that eating an apple helps you to stay awake better than coffee?
Instead of reaching for a cup of Joe in the morning before you head out to the library, grab an apple and watch as its high levels of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and natural sugars jostle you into a better work cycle. You'll feel instantly energized without the dreaded jitters or coffee crash.
3. Don't calculate the minimum
Come finals week, we're all guilty of trying to calculate the lowest grade we can possibly get on an assignment.
But instead of settling for the least amount of effort you can put in to maintain a passable score, strive towards perfection. By setting higher standards for yourself, you're unleashing an unlimited potential for learning and measuring academic growth!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, younger adults aged 18 to 25 require 7-9 hours of sleep a day.
You might be used to less, but you'll want to catch up on your zzz's for finals week. While you're dreaming away, your brain can process newly-acquired memories and play them over again in your sleep, essentially "practicing" the skill throughout the night. As Healthy Sleep, the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, reports, this process — known as memory consolidation — is optimal for learning and memory.
Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, saps us of our energy, attention, and vigilance. Starving off sleep in the hopes of doing well on your exams will therefore only harm your overall success.
Want more on this?
We've talked about overcoming burnout on CF before, so make sure to read that post if you're feeling burnt out already. There are healthy ways to study and still ace your classes, we promise!
How are you tackling finals week this semester? Do you have any tips for your fellow CF readers? Would you like to share words of inspiration?